According to the psychotherapist Jeffrey Kotter, males are less likely than women to use tears manipulatively. Moreover, men look more towards internal, as opposed to external cues, and cry over feelings that relate to their core identity as providers and protectors, as fathers and fighters.
So much for crying out loud. Sobbing is usually accompanied by a set of other symptoms, observed Kotter, such as slow but erratic inhalation, occasional instances of breath-holding and muscular tremor—all of which (plus tears) were evident that unforgettable occasion not so long ago, when Saint Lucia’s most famous son totally lost it following a private luncheon in his honor.
For at least 30 minutes he had sat uncharacteristically silent in his wheelchair, before a semi-circle of adoring frustrated friends ostensibly at the end of their rope, listening far more intently than we realized—or deserved—as we cried our chicken hearts out over the dying Helen.
None of us saw it coming. Conceivably he had, for the previous fifteen minutes or so, been trying to hold back a raging flood in his chest, to no avail. Finally our exhausted honored guest had allowed his nature to take its course. Head bowed, his specially gifted writer’s hands balled up into surprisingly small fists, he angrily pounded his knees.
“Do you guys know what you’re doing?” he asked, chest heaving. “When you talk like that about this country’s immediate future, do you know what you’re saying to me? You’re telling me you don’t care if I die. You guys are my friends; you know how much Saint Lucia means to me. Yet you would desert precisely when you are most needed, as if there really was nothing more you can do.”
He turned his bleary-eyed, teary face in my direction. “As for you, Rick Wayne,” he said, sternly, “I don’t care that you write every week; I don’t care that you’re on TV. I don’t want to hear about how you were never MIA.”
He paused, sucked in a chestful of air before continuing: “Until you have achieved your goal of helping to make Saint Lucia the best it can be for all its citizens, you just haven’t done enough.”
He took another deep breath: “Did you hear me? Until you’ve achieved what you set out to do so many years ago, you simply have not done enough!” And with that he signaled his constant companion to get him the hell away from us.
His words came back to me one morning this week, as I monitored the weapons of mass distraction at work on Radio Saint Lucia. One of them, in his familiar tone reminiscent of horny toads, informed the troops that I had announced my intention to lead a protest march against poverty.
The program’s host chuckled. Perhaps he, too, believes poverty in Saint Lucia is a laughing matter. Or maybe it was the notion of me, of all people, fronting an anti-poverty march that had tickled him.
Stooping to his caller’s level, he said: “Some people are saying that with Grynberg going nowhere, Rick needs another reason to bash Kenny Anthony. So he has shifted his attention to the poor! Anyway, it’s with Grynberg that his name has become synonymous.”
I thought I should leave the self-deluded to their own vices, knowing full well that whatever I might say contrary to their satanic verses would be equal to sowing seeds in barren sand. But then the “you have not done enough” thorn dug deeper into my psyche.
“For whatever it’s worth, and wherever you encounter them,” said the never-sleeping, relentless voice in my head, “you must resist these weapons of mass distraction!”
And so I phoned RSL. To the host, whose job sadly includes pandering five mornings a week to a handful of programmed zombies, I said: “A small correction, if you please. Leading protest marches was never my bag. What I hope to do is bring about a sea change in the way poor people of this country have been made to take full responsibility for their plight. For the most part, they have been rendered poor by the policies of corrupt, fatted and talentless politicians who refuse to acknowledge their own all too obvious effeteness.
“As for Grynberg, if indeed it’s going nowhere then why are you and your callers right now talking about it, more than thirteen years after the secret signing of the infamous agreement and some eight years following its serendipitous discovery?
“Even the governor general has said Grynberg represents a possible constitutional crisis. And let’s not forget, even as we speak, Grynberg is before the ICSID.
“By the way, I’m as proud to be associated with Grynberg as I am with the following other scandals: Mary Rackliffe; Verlinda Joseph; Helenair; the Helenites-Huntley debacle; the no-bail law; Section 361—not to say Rochamel, Frenwell, the NCA’s lapses and infelicities and . . .”
I welcomed the host’s interruption. The speed at which I was rattling off the branded scandals demanded another lungful of oxygen. “Why haven’t you mentioned the Daher Building?” he asked, with all the innocence of Rosemary’s Baby.
And I said: “Wrong again, Shelton. I’ve said a whole lot about that. Over the years I’ve also written numerous columns about the matter. But I don’t mind repeating that I’ve always considered the particular purchase by the John Compton administration a gross waste of public funds, egregiously counterproductive, yet another demonstration of poor judgment on the part of our leaders.
Then again, the Daher issue does not belong on the bobol list. How can it be seen as corruption when the project was debated in the House—unlike Rochamel and Grynberg—which remained for nine years a secret between the current prime minister and a dodgy Colorado oilman. I might also add that I can find in Hansard not a word, not a word, not a word against the Daher project by the day’s opposition, which now forms our present government. Besides . . .”
Again, the host intervened: “Ok,” he chuckled, “we have to go now. Gotta run a couple commercials, gotta pay the bills.”
And I said, with Derek Walcott on my mind: “Yessss!”